Zucker Business Communications is pleased to announce the addition of Corey Michael Dalton to the team. Details here.
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I’ll be blunt – I’ve had it with novice storytellers masquerading as copywriters and content marketing experts. Anyone with a moderate education and couple of undergraduate creative writing classes under their belt can spin a decent yarn. But an appreciation for Chaucer and the competency to craft a beginning, middle, and end does not qualify you to write compelling content and marketing copy that delivers results.
I spent nearly 15 years working for large corporations, learning how to write copy that addressed audience, goals, and intent. I completed my MBA because I wanted to better understand how my skills would adapt and benefit business. I developed real-world experiences drafting copy for industries as diverse as pharmaceuticals, public relations, and even independent comic books so I could better learn the art of targeting and nuance. I wouldn’t have presumed to think that setting up shop without these experiences would qualify me to write copy to represent large corporations.
Writers, their styles, abilities, and levels of comprehension change. I’m not the same writer I was when I was 35. And at that age, I was a different writer from the one I was at 25. Do I have all of the answers? No, but I certainly have a lot more of them now.
My friend and fellow content marketing genius Vince Robisch at Modern Copy Studio is a licensed attorney and spent several years in high level sales. If I’m not going to get a client, I have no problem with them choosing Vince. He’s got the papers to back it up. Certain you need to go the storytelling route? Then stick with a pro agency like Silver Square that has built a reputation over time for doing it right.
Pens for hire are a dime a dozen. Professional storytellers are even more plentiful. Are you willing to put your company’s brand and industry perception in the hands of self-proclaimed experts? You wouldn’t hire your neighbor with a flair for decorating to sell your house. You’d choose the realtor with millions of dollars in annual sales.
Copywriting and content development are no different. Experience matters.
Storytellers have their place, but if you’re hiring them to write copy that represents your company image and brand and to sell your services, don’t be surprised if your audience — and your bottom line — is left severely wanting more.
As someone who has moved several times during the last few years, I’m no stranger
to the “welcome to the neighborhood” junk mail that floods my mailbox in the weeks
following arrival. Most of it just leaves me wondering how much paper was used and
the costs for production and distribution. But some of it is useful – I’d like to offer a
special thank you to Lowes for the coupons that I typically use on cleaning and lawn care
One particularly useful piece of new resident mail is the fine selection of return mailing
labels, frequently adorned with graphics like the American flag or seasonal flowers,
which find their way to my home. At this point, I hope to never write my return address
As convenient as these sheets of stickers are, I recently came to the realization that I had
become spoiled. I no longer paid attention to what organizations were supplying them.
As soon as the mail arrived, I could quickly identify the slightly thicker envelope with the
generic red and black printing, tear it open, remove the stickers, and toss the rest away
without so much as a vague notion of the originator. And therein lies the problem.
Everyone loves getting the stickers, but the messages that come with them have gotten
stale and borderline irrelevant. Now, I realize that if this post gets into the right hands,
the stickers may cease to exist. I can’t lie – I would be somewhat disappointed. But as
a communicator, I think it’s crucial that these businesses reassess their goals and the
messages being used to try and achieve results. Perhaps the time has come to try a new
It’s nice to be welcomed to the neighborhood, but sometimes the neighborhood
welcoming committee requires a little sprucing up.
But Who Are You?
As a small business owner in a service industry, I rely on my ability to develop
relationships and to generate organic press to build awareness of my company. As most
people in a similar role will tell you, having a lively blog is one way to achieve that goal.
But many blogs rely too heavily on the standard tropes when creating content.
What am I referring to? Simple – the lists, the product reviews, the collection of links, the
ten-tips, the informal polls, and so on. See where I’m going?
I like reading these types of posts as much as most people. In fact, I’m sure there will be
the occasional time when I fall back on them when I feel like the content is of substantial
value. The problem I have is that most of these posts don’t give me any idea of who you
Now, here’s where I have to be careful. My purpose here isn’t to say you have to
be “authentic” or “engage” because those blog entries are even more cliché than the
ones I mention above. What I’m asking for is something in your writing that gives me
some idea of you. What’s your personality? Can I sense that certain topics make you
angry or irritated or giddy? Is your sense of humor more Adam Sandler or Christopher
Guest? What are your interests outside of work and do references to them creep in to your
One writer I like, for example, loves prog rock and Italian cooking. What he writes about,
for the most part, has nothing to do with those topics. Yet references to his interests often
filter into his work.
I want to know you as the full-fledged character you are. When that becomes clear, then
you’ve hooked me. You’ve got dimensions. You’re interesting. And I’m much more
likely to spend five minutes reading what you have to say.
*This post written with musical support from Centro-Matic.